by Katie Julius

I saw a meme recently on my feed. I can’t recall exactly what it said, but this was the jist of it:

ME: I’m tired. I could use a break.
SOCIAL MEDIA: You’re a mom! You’ve got this!
ME: I really could use some help.
SOCIAL MEDIA: You’re a strong mama!
ME: I’m barely keeping my head above water…
SOCIAL MEDIA: Mom Power! We rock!

I don’t want to diminish or take away from how amazing motherhood can be and the fact that as women, especially homeschooling moms, we really do a lot! Some of us work full or part-time jobs. Some of us volunteer in our children’s activities so they can continue to have those activities. We work to raise our children – parenting, teaching, discipling. We often keep the home – cleaning, cooking, shopping. It’s no wonder many of us are feeling tired or worn out. That’s a lot on anyone’s plate, no matter how strong we are!

I don’t know where you’ve been mentally and emotionally over the last eight months, but I know in my world, many of my outlets or “breaks” (even short ones while in a music class) are mostly gone. Moms Night Out is now Moms Night on Zoom and we all know that’s just NOT the same when the kids all want to wave to each other before you get started.

I have noticed a kind of frightening trend on social media during this unique time. I see lots of words of encouragement. I see lots of memes of empowerment. I see posts of everyone’s “perfect” homeschool rooms, meals, crafts, color-coded schedules and lesson plans. While there are certainly some mamas out there who have it pretty together, I would venture a guess that most of those photos don’t show the actual mess going on behind the camera. You know how I know? Because I’ve done it. I’ve pushed the clutter and chaos out of the way for the perfect social media-worthy photo. I’ve been creative in the way I’ve cropped those photos to make sure it seems like I’ve got this all figured out.

After all, I work for a state homeschool organization. I’m an expert right? While I do consider myself very knowledgeable about homeschooling, particularly the process for establishing a private home school in California and all the planning and organizing that can go into it, you may be surprised to find out that our days are nothing like what those plans might make you think.

Our days can be filled with screens as I work on a project I fell asleep trying to complete the night before while a stack of dishes in the sink stares back at me. Our days are often smattered with tantrums and outbursts over seemingly nothing…or frustration that things are not perfect or that things are difficult (ah, the life of a mom of a child with learning differences). Our days can be completely unproductive, even though we have no plans and nowhere to go.

So, why am I sharing all of this?

Well, I think it’s time that we stop the empty quotes and tidbits of hollow encouragement. While we are strong women and we CAN do a lot, it’s perfectly okay to not be okay sometimes! It’s okay to share the imperfections on social media. It’s okay to say you don’t have it together today…or yesterday, or the day before, or the 17 days before that. Being a homeschooling mom is hard. We need to support each other on this journey. And I mean REALLY support each other.

If you are in a place where you are able, ask a mama how you can help her. Be specific, if possible. Do you know she just wants to run to the grocery store for an hour on her own? Offer to help her in that way.

Write a handwritten note and put it in the mail. We’ve sadly lost the art of encouraging one another through written words – they’re so much more meaningful than a meme or quote posted on your wall (though there is a time and place for that too).

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I think there are many moms who would love to help out other moms who are having a rough day. Be okay with accepting that help too!

Post the “ugly” and real parts of your day. Maybe someone else is going through the exact same thing and seeing that they aren’t the only one struggling is enough. Be honest. I think we’d find there are so many of us who are in the “don’t have it all together” or “I’m really struggling” category than we would realize.

Of course, as believers, going to God is always the first and most important thing when you are struggling. Spending time with Him and in His Word (even in the midst of chaos and a busy schedule) can give you that strength and encouragement you need for that day.

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” – 1 Chronicles 16:11